Summary: Whether in the pulpit or in the pew, mature believers act and speak with integrity.
“My teaching is not mine, but His Who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on My own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
Going into Judea was a risky proposition for Jesus since the religious leaders wanted to kill Him. He had voluntarily restricted Himself to travelling in Galilee because of the threat to his life. It was not His time. Moreover, there was no need to expose His disciples to such threats before they were equipped to stand firm in the Faith.
The Feast of Booths provided opportunity for His brothers, sons of Mary and Joseph, to assail Him verbally. “Leave here and go to Judea,” they mocked, “that your disciples also may see the works you are doing.” The Bible is quite forthright in acknowledging, “Not even his brothers believed in him.” Jesus was not willing to take their bait, however. He said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come” [JOHN 7:1-8].
So, His brothers went up to the Feast. After they had gone, He also went up. However, He went privately, not openly. When He arrived, He discovered that the religious leaders were looking for Him. Of course, He was hiding in plain sight. He listened to what was bruited about concerning Himself. “He’s a good man,” some were saying. Others countered angrily, saying, “No, he is leading the people astray.” However, the conversations were always in hushed tones, the arguments conducted in whispers. Everyone was fearful of the religious leaders. Should they find someone talking about this Jesus of Nazareth, there was no telling what they might do [see JOHN 7:10-13].
The Feast had been going on for several days when Jesus at last went up to the Temple and began teaching. He boldly presented Himself and began to declare the truths of the Father. His teaching would be a source of controversy, seemingly a direct challenge to the authority and power of the religious leaders. After all, they did nothing to stop Him. Oh, they challenged Him; but the challenge was almost cursory. They seemed powerless before His unrelenting logic. He, on the other hand, just kept on speaking of life—real life, vibrant and scintillating, not some mere existence that was artificial and plastic.
It was as He began teaching that some of the religious leaders happened to come to one of His instructional sessions. They were astounded. “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” They were part of a tight fraternity that regulated who could join them. Their special clique was akin to ordination within a denomination today. They controlled who got in, and so they knew everyone. Those who got in had many privileges, and they would do nothing to jeopardise the privileges they enjoyed. Now, here was this man, and He was teaching—teaching! He hadn’t been to their approved schools! He hadn’t received their imprimatur! He hadn’t even asked their permission! And here He was teaching their people, acting like He belonged there.
What is fascinating is that the grousing concerning His position as an instructor doesn’t appear to have been open. Nevertheless, He knew what was in their hearts. So, Jesus answered them, exposing what they truly thought; and the answer He gave is what is recorded as our text. “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood” [JOHN 7:16-18].
He had much more to say, and perhaps we will be able to take a careful look at what else was said that day in another message. However, it will be enough for us to understand what was said at this particular time if we will understand something of the issue of integrity. Godly people act with integrity. Though integrity seems rare at times in this day, it is still the mark of authenticity for the people of God.
SOME INITIAL THOUGHTS — Before grappling with the meat of the message, I believe it will prove beneficial to lay a common foundation for our study by making some initial comments. Permit me to preface what I will say by noting that while integrity is valued by everyone, especially when they must depend upon another, the focus for this message is the veracity of the messenger and the accuracy of the message that is delivered. Fidelity in transmitting the message is essential to the Christian Faith. When we deviate from the message delivered by the Spirit of God through His Apostles, we will quickly drift into every sort of error.